Follow
Share

My father has been in a nursing home for 4 years now. He has two kinds of dementia. Some days are good and some are really bad. There isn't much in between. I went to visit him the other day, and all he wanted to talk about is going home. I told him that I had to talk to the doctor. He yelled at me and told me he doesn't have a doctor and hasn't seen one since he has been there. So he said again he wants to go home. I asked him where home is. He said that he didn't know but it is wherever my mom is living. I said she is in heaven and he swore at me. Then he asked when that happened. I told him 4 years ago. He said that is impossible because he talked to her this morning. I told him that he probably did. He swore at me again and I told him that if he is not nice I am going home. That didn't last more than 2 minutes. So I ended up leaving. I know it is the disease and not him talking, but I don't believe I need to take that abuse. I am running out of ideas what to say to him when he asks to go home. Some things I tried, "You are safe here", "Maybe another day",
" you are well cared for here", ...but nothing seems to calm him down anymore. Any suggestions?

My mom is 91 with severe dementia, in her “healthy” life she was always a very practical responsible person. I find that even with her dementia, she still responds to practical and responsible. So I always say something like “the electricity is out at the house and they are working on it...we can go when it’s fixed” It works most of the time.

She couldn’t handle it when I had to go someplace and she was to be left with her caregiver, I said “I have to go to work, so you need to help me out with this” works almost every time.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to scatter195
Report

I was visiting my mom yesterday and she lowered her mask and said I want to go back to my house.  My mom has dementia and has been in assisted living for 7 years.  Her house was sold and I use the proceeds from that to pay her assisted living rent.  I simply said we can't go back to your house.  She said it's not safe?  I said no, it's no longer safe.  But when things get better with this covid outbreak, you can visit me at my house and we can go for drives.  That seemed to register with her.

I like what lifestudent suggested...saying something like "that would be wonderful wouldn't it" and then pair off on another story like "do you remember when we used to blah blah blah" and tell him a story of when your family did something enjoyable that is going to take his mind in another direction.   Re-direction is key, but it has to be something strong enough to divert his thoughts.
Nothing debatable or argumentative or nothing reiterating that his wife is gone.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Jamesj
Report

I read once that when kids want something that they can't have you should do something called magical thinking. It goes something like this, "Oh, I really wish that we could do that. Wouldn't that be wonderful? I wish you could too." But the implication is that they can't, but they still feel that their ideas are validated. For a kid it would sound like this if they asked for ice cream for dinner, "Wouldn't that be delicious? If I could I would have chocolate chip. That sounds so lovely. I certainly wish we could do that." I have used this with my mom and it has really been helpful in situations like this. She asks me when she can see me (it has been five months since lockdown) and I say, "Mom, I so wish that we could do that. The minute we can we will. That is the best idea ever, and soon this will happen." Hope this helps... Good luck
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Lifestudent
Report

What you are experiencing is common.

Fill his room with photo's and other memorabilia to make him feel more comfortable.

When he talks of going home bring out photo albums and talk with him about the experiences in those photo's. Play his favorite songs and ask him why they are so special. When he cries hold him and let him know he is loved and cared for. Crying is a good way to let out his frustration and pain.

I did that when I was a volunteer and it always worked.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Christservant
Report

Maybe you could try telling your father that he has to speak to the doctor himself. That might take some of the heat off you while you're visiting.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
Report

Imho, the broken mind will not respond in convo that YOU will deem lucid. Prayers sent.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

Having worked with seniors for four decades, the main thing is just walk out when he is anxious and then go back and redirect the answer. He is in unfamiliar surroundings and doesn't seem to realize he has been there for 4 years. Do you have a picture album there? Are there things he has that can remind him of home? You probably did the right thing by just leaving for your sake and you can tell him that yelling is an inappropriate behavior and you cannot take that..
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to olivia59
Report

I would not argue with him as it will set him off. As to going home, lie and say you will speak to the doctor to see what arrangements can be made and then distract him. If he starts acting out, IMMEDIATELY get up and leave and do not let him put guilt and distress on you which will destroy you. I know he is sick but that does NOT justify that he is abusing you. That is simply behavior you must not tolerate - just get up and leave at once.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Lockett2166
Report

Those who have answered, "we're packing", "we're working on it" are moving in the right direction. You can ask him HOW would he like to go. "Dad, would you like to go by train, plane, or boat?" (answers you) "Have you been on a plane(train, boat) before? Tell me about it. ..... "OK, I'll see about tickets".
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to BCagain
Report

In your question, you said "I don't believe I need to take that abuse."I understand how you feel ... I went through similar "conversations" when I cared for my mother. But, you must remember that it's his disease (his two dementias) that are talking, not the father you remember and loved.Regarding his desire to "go home," here are three articles that can help you."I Want to Go Home" How to respond when someone with Alzheimer’s repeats this sentiment. - https://www.healthcentral.com/article/i-want-to-go-homeWhen a Senior with Dementia Says, ‘I Just Want to Go Home’ - https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/what-to-do-when-elderly-parents-wants-to-leave-the-nursing-home-138005.htm3 Ways to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home - https://dailycaring.com/when-someone-with-alzheimers-says-i-want-to-go-home-3-ways-to-respond/

As another responder said, "Be kind to yourself." And, stay safe.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to mikegamble
Report

i guess imagine us at their age and in their situation - we would be begging to go home also - being trapped in a nursing home is not great.....but you dont have a choice given he needs 24/7 assistance....my fathers last words to be when i placed him in inpatient hospice at the hospital was ' please take me home' - it haunts me to this day....
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Mhillwt
Report
Phikorp Aug 15, 2020
Luckily after dad begged me to take him home to my house he said “you’re so pretty”. May have been a bribe, but those were his last words to me. I am misty writing this, but friends & family all agree he needed to be in assisted living facility when he went 12 months before he got bad. I was able to get outside hospice to come to the facility when he got bad. I could not have handled the stress of so many family coming while I was going through slowly losing him.
(0)
Report
"We're in the process of packing."
Do not think logic. Think what will calm him down moment-to-moment.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to TouchMatters
Report

I would tell them you’re working on it.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Underd0g
Report

Keep saying the same thing in a calm voice. The repeating will continue and he doesn’t remember the answers. When the begging like that got too much for me with Mom I had to get out of there. Then she some what settled down the care givers said. But when she was in her own home, she didn’t know it. They are in another world, maybe 70 years ago. Be kind to yourself and live in the moment is what I keep telling myself being a caregiver for my husband now.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Marylepete
Report

Distract with another conversation. He believes what he believes when he is in the confused state and you are wasting your time trying to explain the truth. Telling him he is safe is just a waste of words. Think of other topics to switch over to - like you talked to so and so - ask if he remembers that person. Ask about something from very long ago because he will more than likely be able to describe it down to the nth degree - old memories are the last to go.

Before he even starts the conversation, see if you can get him out of his room - perhaps a trip outside to sit awhile. If you can take him out of facility, go to lunch. My great nephew and I have 'parking lot picnics' where we do a drive through for food and sit in the parking lot to eat and talk. Maybe try that to avoid getting in/out of a car or exposure to covid by going into a restaurant.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to my2cents
Report

I play the "squirrel" game with Mom. Whenever she starts onto a topic like that I come up with something to distract her. Ask another question, draw her attention to something outside, anything to change the topic.

On the other hand forgetting is part of the dementia. And the fear of losing control of one's life. It's OK to say what will calm him down, even if it's a lie. Tell him you will come in a few days to help him pack and ask what he wants to take with him. He will forget this by the time you leave. So even if you have to have the same discussion each visit at least he might be satisfied for a short time.

Mom is in SNC now and when she complains about being shut up I just tell her the president ordered it and she can blame him! Seems to work.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Frances73
Report

I see so much of my husband in your father. Before he went into assisted living, and after he got there, he wanted me to do him a favor and take him to see his wife 190 miles away, every day at 3 PM, he would start this conversation. Trying to convince him I am his wife was for naught. He said I wasn't and that was it. If he saw our son the day before, he still insisted he had to go to that town to see his wife and son. IT HURT. I finally asked him who was I if I, his wife was taking care of him. He said, "you're my friend. Even though I showed him our wedding picture on the wall, the pictures we had together over the years at different ages, even recent pictures he still only saw me as a friend taking care of him. So, I got the idea, through support group, to tell him I couldn't take him today, that I can't drive the interstate that far away, I had laundry to do today, I had a doctor's appointment. Anything to get out of the discussion. BUT, it wasn't the end of the discussion. Before he was in the NH, I was awoken by the security alarm on the only outside door in the apartment--I didn't have to see, I knew what was happening. True to form, he was dressed and ready to leave and turned around to get something to take to his wife. And I closed the door. The day before, while I was going to the bathroom, he left the apartment before I was ready, crossed a 6-lane boulevard on a Sunday afternoon and was almost 2 blocks from home. (I couldn't help if I couldn't leave the bathroom in a hurry). That was my clue to get him somewhere safe. After his admittance to NH he still asked the same question, I told him I would have to take time off work and I couldn't just then. If he got worked up, I just left and told the NH attendant that he was upset. She would then go down and get him to do something, like join the group in the "living room", etc. Or he took a nap and forgot about the conversation.
About the doctor's appointments. Where my husband was, a "family" doctor visited once a month, but once every week he would also visit--I think only so many people in one visit, prescribed what was necessary, like when my husband fell, made sure he got physical therapy and checked my husband over to see if all was okay. I saw these reports, but not every week, only when I asked for them. I was told they all do that, nursing homes. I wanted to know because my husband saw his primary before AL every 3 months as he was diabetic and experienced mini-strokes. He was seen by the NH doctor regularly. Check into that. I hope this has helped you understand white lies are OK. They are forgotten, maybe not, as in my case, his demand was every day at 3:00 pm, like clock-work!
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to JoAnne80
Report

If he is having a "bad day" and yelling at you, leave immediately. No amount of explaining will get him to understand.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ZippyZee
Report

Just tell him COVID makes it impossible at this time.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to bowgirl
Report
TouchMatters Aug 15, 2020
Is depressing and won't help him feel 'good' or 'secure' - It will scare him.
Truth must be reflected through their eyes and cognitive abilities, not ours.
(3)
Report
He may not be getting enough attention to keep him busy and his mind off going home. Everybody wants to go home to happier times now with Covid-19 going on. He needs maybe some more activities, drawing, coloring, radio headset, exercise, companion/sitter, a place that has more direction to amusing tv/video, walk around anywhere, feed the birds really anything simple to do and especially with a loved one would be best.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to LCPELC
Report
disgustedtoo Aug 16, 2020
Activities are always good, anything to keep people occupied, but that isn't always possible. Even if you are able to redirect them to some other topic or activity, the record always comes back around to that "scratch." Home isn't always what we think it might be. It could be the most recent home. It could be any home in the past, including where they grew up. Some refer to it as wanting to go home to god, but my mother isn't particularly religious, and was VERY specific when referring to the home she had fixated on!

It was rather odd, but thankfully it happened, that mom NEVER asked me to take her home. I did all the pre-MC legwork, but told my brothers I would not participate in the actual move. My thoughts were that I would ALWAYS get the blame - it was a potential even if I wasn't there, but probably guaranteed if I was there! This had happened with the car - YB did ALL the talking and taking of the key. I only stood in the background and on the way out suggested disabling it, as I suspected she had another key (she did). Who gets the nasty phone call about the key the next day? Me of course! Nastier call the second day to fix whatever I did to her car (found that key!)

So, when I would visit her (stayed away for about 2 weeks, as suggested by staff), she didn't ask me. One visit, less than 2 months after the move, on seeing me, she said 'Oh funny you showed up. I'm going to have B take me home when he comes tonight'. When I left, I gave him a heads up. He wasn't even going to visit, she just got it in her head!

Even staff uses similar tactics. Mom's hearing is REALLY bad, and they can't get her to keep her hearing aid in (one went through the laundry, replacement #1 went AWOL.) So, when she wants them to call her mother, my brother, or find a way to get home, they have written notes. She hangs on to these and will cycle through them. Who knows how old they are! But it allows me to know that they deal with this the same way we do.

Anyway, every time he visited (at least when I was there too), she hounded him to take her home. Never me. That went on for about 9 months. Out of the blue, she asked if I could drop her off at her mother's. Urg? Quick response was it was late in the day and not on my way home, maybe tomorrow. That was sufficient, but immediately she asked if I had a key to the house she lived in prior to the condo (sold over 25 years ago and her mother has been gone at least 40 years!) Ummm, not with me, maybe at home... Who knows what 'home' means to her now?

Even if I could visit, I would not bring that topic up! (I did go this week, to "celebrate" her b'day, but 1) outside in the heat!, 2) not allowed to share the cupcakes and ice cream with her and 3) staying 6' apart with masks, I could only write quick notes on a small white board I bought. With some aides, she was able to look at the gifts in the bag, the reese's being the prized one! She was also eager to get back in, out of the heat and focused on the cupcakes and ice cream!

But, once the topic is there, it may take some effort to get off that topic. Even if it works, it will come back again, maybe even within minutes! We just have to keep saying something that works to "satisfy", even if it is agreement, but put off until tomorrow, next week, some vague time in the future. One of the last times I could visit before lockdown, she got into a rut (record scratch!), repeating the same thing over and over - not home related. I looked at one of the staff and asked how do I change this channel!!!!????
(0)
Report
His anxiety is making him surly. Please talk to his doctor about your concerns. He may need a small dose of antianxiety medication to help him feel calmer. It may not stop the questions, but it should blunt the outbursts.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Taarna
Report

Your father is not the same you grew up with anymore. You need to look at him as a person who needs your help, patience, understanding, and most of love. I would suggest you view him as mentally handicapped person and/or as someone regressing into a child like person. There are no easy answers, but you cannot always tell the truth because they will not remember or accept it anyway. When my mother asked to go home, I assured her that would be as soon as she got well; that is better than she is now. If he complains about not seeing a doctor, tell him that you will take care of that. Be creative and deflect problems; instead complicating them more, and do not argue.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Ricky6
Report

Do you think the anger would subside with the right medication and a chance to live out his life in a familiar environment?
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Worriedspouse
Report

You recognize he has "some kinds of dementia"; it's time to recognize that this is part of it. There is no "making nice" about it. It ISN'T nice to end here, nor is the end of life as long as we are forced to live these days EVER nice no matter where we live. Not for us. Often not for those who care for us.
You are trying to make an argument for your side of things. That won't work. You can't argue with dementia. You can't convince dementia. You aren't responsible to fix things. And many things can't be fixed. This CERTAINLY can't.
The answer now is to protect yourself and be as realistic as you are able. For your father the answer is one, repeated "I am so sorry, but that isn't possible". Tell the truth. When asked for an explanation of "WHY NOT" don't go there; that is where the "no win" starts. Simply say "I can't explain", or "the doctor forbids it for now". Do not stay overly long after this begins. You are down to childlike behavior that "may" adapt by learning that "going there" means "Oh, sorry, I have to leave". Visit a bit less. It is unlikely he will notice that.
So sorry. Your experience, were you to be in a support group with others, if you read the forum here, is so NOT unique. But it is always sad. Take care of yourself and know that Dad is surely losing the "self" that made him who he was. I am so sorry for the pain.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report
TouchMatters Aug 15, 2020
Disagree: If dementia inflicted, best to give them hope "we're working on it." then distraction. CAN'T use logic - and bottom line, why make the person feel worse? You mention 'you can't convince dementia' then suggest logic "I am so sorry, but that isn't possible." When a person has dementia, hope is often ALL they have left. Please reconsider.
Sorry means nothing to person with dementia EXCEPT STUCK in their misery. No need to add to that. False hope is best: "We're packing"
(2)
Report
See 1 more reply
Due to covid, so much falls directly on our shoulders. Is staff available to give reassurance? Bring familiar items and plaster his room with photos, a familiar cushion or pillowcase and use as talking points; look at photo albums and LP jackets, sing songs (Youtube) that he used to sing. Dance for him. Do Tai-Chi. Play catch with a tennis ball. When was the last time anyone put lotion on his feet or hands? Make potholders with him. What about getting a telescope to watch stars through his window with him? Don't let them medicate his feelings of sadness, anger, loss of dignity and friends, away, Feelings may be the last thing he may have.

This past week, I've been learning a new dance with my 97 yo mom, called Jerusalema but she is so frail, that's pretty limited. Is there something, anything, that works with your Dad? It's important to explore new neural pathways and every time he wants to go home, it's an immediate challenge. Count fingers and toes, do hand games and clapping rhythms, A sailor went to sea sea sea. What was his profession? Bring a textbook to see what's new with his prior interests.
Bring fresh mint and lavender for him to hold and crush and smell. Citrus peels smell great. Read a book out loud to him, a book that he would have been familiar with, anything from great literature to nursery rhymes, just hearing you read would be helpful. Next visit, bring a list of things to do--don't hold back. Worth a try.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to purrna2go
Report
Ioanna Aug 15, 2020
What a wonderful answer! You are an extraordinary person to think of these suggestions and I shall try them. Thank you for writing.
(0)
Report
Question: Would you accept verbal physical abusive from a person that is not a relative? Why do you accept it from a relative? Often times we are still under our parents control as adults. The trick is to separate and understand the adult/child, child/adult relationship. Don't tolerate verbal/physical abuse. Take a pure look at the behavior of your parent/child as just another person. Establish the new system where you are responsible for their safety and welfare new rules apply. Be soft and gentle, your parent is not the same person things have changed.......adjust.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Carespeakerone1
Report
ZippyZee Aug 15, 2020
Smart
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
No threats, just change the subject.
GI've him a foot or back massage, I know my 96 ye old Dad enjoys tgat when I visit him.

Play some of his favorite music.

Tall about the good old days.

Never bring up his wife being dead as he just has to relive the thought and he won't remember the next minute anyway.

If he brings it up, just talk about a good memory with him and your mom.

Put yourself in his shoes. I'm sure it's pretty boring, scary and depressing to be in a place by yourself with strangers.

I would also have a camera installed in his room.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to bevthegreat
Report

"...not able to get close enough to him to show him pictures on my phone."

Print them or use originals/copies of originals, put in binder/album and let him leaf through it, talking about who is in the picture, what place this is, etc. Maybe change up some of the pictures from time to time. Might keep him preoccupied AND you might learn something about his/your past!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to disgustedtoo
Report

I find when I visited mother more than once a week I'd end up with her 'yelling' at me. (She didn't really raise her voice, she'd just be really ornery and find ways to pick at me).

She's not in a NH, she's in her own apt, attached to brother's home. So, in theory, I could visit her every single day. But due to the memory and behavior slips, I choose to go when I feel like I can handle her.

She's still pretty adapted to time and such, but she is hard to talk to for more than about 10 minutes. I trigger her anger like nobody else can.

I went to wash her windows for Mother's Day. (she sits most of the day at her kitchen table and watches the neighbors from there--so the windows should be clean, IMHO) I showed up and started working, and when I went inside to do the inside part, she said "Why are you doing this again already? You barely just did them!" I was so taken aback. It had been 5 years since I washed them and YB said no one had cleaned them since then. It was a real AHA moment for me. She didn't WANT me there and I felt it.

Haven't seen her since then--except for a drive by 90th birthday 'party' and I did not talk to her.

That's been well over 2 months. My birthday has come and gone and she didn't acknowledge that, although YB got a card and a call---so sometimes we just have to realize that we're NOT that important to our parents. It's a lesson I have to keep on learning.

As her mental state deteriorates, I am the one sib she cares for least, and I know it, so I respect that and only visit occasionally.

If your dad doesn't recognize you, needs to be reminded every visit that his wife is gone, that you are his daughter, etc., I'd cut myself some slack and not visit more than once a week. It's stressful for both of you.

Nothing wrong with taking care of yourself during this pandemic. My PCP said he is shoveling out tranquilizers like candy since people are so stressed and anxious.

If you get worn out and depressed over this, then who is there to really help dad with the things he may need.

If his anger is out of control, you may need to ask for a simple eval to see if a mild sedative would help calm him down.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Midkid58
Report
janeinspain Aug 15, 2020
Midkid, virtual hugs to you. Your clear-eyed assessment of the situation is impressive. You have boundaries AND you keep showing up to help as you can. What a good human you are :)
(1)
Report
See 2 more replies
Your father has dementia, and it is affecting him, as you tell us above. I think that now you honestly need to curtail visits for your own good. How is it that his facility is allowing outside visitors now during the height of covid-19? That aside, visit him once a week or twice a week. I think you will find, with the level of dementia clearly present that your father will not know the difference. When he asks to go home just say "I am so sorry Dad; that isn't possible." There is no sense arguing with someone who cannot absorb what you say or mean. As to nothing calming him down my question would be is your visit causing him more agitation than help? Does the staff say he is ALWAYS this way? If so can his doctors give him medication to calm him. We always complain about our seniors being "snowed" but sometimes that is a haven from what real life is for them. He may need something now to help him.
When the visits begin to go bad leave at once. If that is in the first 5 minutes so be it. Just say "I wanted to say hello Dad; I will be back soon". And get on with your life.
I am so sorry you are daily having to live with knowing your Dad is trapped in his dementia and so dreadfully unhappy. This has to be so hard for you. But the awful truth is that not everything can be fixed.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report

Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter